‘Morality is not the doctrine of how we may make ourselves happy, but how we may make ourselves worthy of happiness’ said Immauel Kant and Gerald Angel, who preaches, practices and writes about fidelity, is very happy. Until one day, in a Brighton hotel room, he wakes up next to a beautiful, naked blonde. ‘A Philopsopher’s Tale’, a comedic look at moral dilemma, is written and produced by Fauzia Rahman, who has an MA in Philosophy, has closely studied the works of Kant and was struck by the ideas or lying and deception. Although it might seem a heavy subject on which to base a comedy, Rahman wisely steers clear of going to deep into philosophical musings. With more mistaken identities than you could shake a copy of ‘The Comedy of Errors’ at, the script is very fast paced and cleverly crosses over the stories of Gerald, his family, friends and a mysterious blonde who has come to visit. And director Chris Hislop doesn’t mess around with it. It’s presented simply and effectively and without creating any pretentious philosophical atmosphere.
The cast is generally strong, if a little overenthusiastic. Anthony Curran, who plays Gerald, convincingly captures the essencse of a good man struggling with guilt and despair. Ed Williams, with disappointingly little stage time, is also very good as Henry Angel, his son, and Natasha Staples also puts in an excellent performance. Together they appear charmingly innocent and there are some wonderfully awkward scenes where both attempt to flirt. Unfortunately Clive Greenwood, who plays Thomas Ruse, Gerald’s lifelong friend, tends to overdo it. Whilst he’s mostly very watchable (especially when he restrains himself) there are occasional paroxysms across his face and body that make him look like a drunken Paul Merton. And if this wasn’t bad enough already, it seems to fuel Caroline Langston’s performance as Moly Angel, Gerald’s wife. And when together they create such terribly overacted scenes that you can barely watch.
A promising script and some good performances set ‘A Philosopher’s Tale’ above the average Fringe drama but it could do with being a little less flamboyant and a little more dry.